A pair of Queensland sprinting teammates made the most of a long journey to south-west Victoria, triumphing in the Warrnambool Men's and Women's Gifts at Reid Oval on Saturday, December 2.
Brad Hunt and Chloe Mannix-Power, both members of Viking Athletics under distinguished coach Brett Robinson on the Gold Coast, saluted in their respective 120-metre finals.
Hunt, in his second appearance at the annual event, was thrilled to take home the sash for the first time after starting with a six-metre handicap.
He crossed the line in a time of 12.652 seconds, ahead of Kevin Brittain (Geelong) and Maki Loukeris (Victoria).
Hunt said he knew he was "in the mix" before the race and was pleased his hard work across the off-season was paying dividends.
"Second race of the season for us so had a pretty good season of training with Robbo and the Vikings so it's nice to taste the fruits of the hard work," he told The Standard.
Mannix-Power, visiting Warrnambool for the first time, began as the back-marker with a handicap of 3.5 metres and finished with a time of 13.863 seconds.
Julia Phillips (Brighton) was second, with Ebony Newton (Wallalong) third.
The reigning two-time open women's beach sprint national champion, in just her second year of contesting gifts, was relieved to collect the sash.
"(I'm) happy that it's over," Mannix-Power said.
"I always get super nervous on race days but I got the job done and it was good. I probably couldn't have asked for a better run, I came out strong and I ran to the end so that's all I can do."
Both runners have plans to contest the Stawell Gift early next year, with Mannix-Power expecting to be ripe for the famed race.
She narrowly missed out on a final berth last year, finishing second in her semi-final when she needed to win to advance.
"I gave it a crack last year for the first time but I came off Aussies (Australian surf Lifesaving Championships), so this year I'll be fresh and then (aim to) defend my title on the beach the following week once again.
"I'm going for a third year in a row on the beach."
Warrnambool DPS stable's Grace Carter finished seventh in the women's gift final after winning the women's 70-m sash.
Fellow DPS runners Patrick Meade (120m under 18 mixed), Callum Wade (300m under 14 mixed) and Perry Watson (120m under 14 mixed) all won events.
Meanwhile, Warrnambool runners Josh Bail and Sophie Burrows triumphed in the 1600m open race and 300m under 18 mixed final respectively.